Aspects of spermatogenesis and microscopic testicular morphology in Greater Rhea, Rhea americana (Linnaeus, 1758)1
The cellular composition of the testicular capsule, seminiferous peritubular tissue, the epithelia as well as periductal muscle cell layers of the excurrent ducts was studied, in sexually mature and active Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus) birds of the passerine family, Ploceidae. Ultrastructure of the contractile cells in the testicular capsule, peritubular and periductal tissues showed that these cells were smooth muscles of typical morphological characteristics. Variability in the immunohistochemical co-expression of microfilaments and intermediate filaments in the different tissues was evident. Actin and desmin proteins were co-expressed immunohistochemically in the testicular capsule and seminiferous peritubular smooth muscle layer. Actin was singly and very weakly expressed in the rete testis epithelium while cytokeratins and desmin were co-expressed in the epithelium of the excurrent ducts. The periductal muscle layer of all ducts of the epididymis, the ductus deferens as well as the seminal glomus, strongly co-expressed actin and desmin. Vimentin was absent in all cells and tissue types studied. There is clear evidence that the tissues of the male gonad and its excurrent ducts in the Masked Weaver, as has been reported for members of the Galloanserae and Ratitae, contain well-formed contractile tissues whose function would include the transportation of luminal through-flow from the testis into, and through, its excurrent ducts. The microtubule helix in the head and of the mid-piece, of elongating spermatids, as well as of the mature spermatozoa in the various excurrent ducts, including some spermatozoa in the seminal glomus, also co-expressed these three proteins.